Each week, thousands of Louisiana residents continue applying for jobless benefits, 14 months after the coronavirus pandemic and sweeping layoffs related to the economic collapse began.
Louisiana had 6,370 new unemployment claims, or applications, for the week ending May 1, according to U.S. Department of Labor data released Thursday.
While there are a myriad of reasons why there are consistently new jobless claims, from benefits expiring to clerical errors and even attempted fraud, the new claims continue to roll in.
There were another 2,038 new claims filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for self-employed workers or independent contractors which has been a major target for identity theft and fraud attempts across the nation.
The state began adding new technology to its online portal for filing unemployment benefits this week with ID.me which is used to verify identities.
“Verifying the identity of the person filing for unemployment at the start will help speed the overall claim review and approval process, while also ensuring that any benefits paid go to the right person,” said Ava Cates, LWC Secretary in a news release.
Even so, scammers have attempted to impersonate ID.me to trick jobless benefits seekers into giving up personal information.
Unemployment benefit seekers must create an account on ID.me's website before they can apply for benefits starting this week. The process is estimated to take 5 minutes for roughly 85% of individuals. Louisiana was the target of two seemingly coordinated attacks which the state said appear to have been fraud attempts in mid-November.
The workforce commission has been audited at least twice by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor which found erroneous payments to individuals who don't qualify for unemployment benefits and even a small fraction that went to people in jail. The state agency is also battling a lawsuit with the potential for class action status over unemployment claim administration.
There were 49,569 continuing existing unemployment claims for the week ending April 24 in addition to 106,827 more pandemic unemployment assistance claims, according to the latest data available from the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
The last day for the extra $300 federal unemployment benefits approved through the coronavirus pandemic relief bill is in September.